Labor Department to propose overtime rule change

Workers in Tennessee and across the country may be affected by a new rule on overtime pay scheduled to be announced soon. Reports indicate that the Department of Labor has drafted a new regulation for review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The agency must review new regulations before they go into effect to ensure that the rule-making process meets with legal standards and responsibilities. It can take up to three months to review the proposed rule, but no minimum period is required before approval.

The Department of Labor said in 2018 that it expected to bring a new overtime rule proposal forward by March 2019. It replaces an Obama-era rule that was later declared invalid in federal court. The 2016 proposal dramatically changed the threshold for the salary of employees who can be considered "exempt" from the protections of the National Labor Relations Act. Employees only must make $23,660 each year to be exempt from overtime pay regulations, despite the fact that many workers with such low salaries do not have meaningful autonomy or management authority. Exemptions to the law are meant to apply to white-collar, managerial or professional workers.

The Obama administration wanted to raise that threshold to $47,476. Other changes were also included in the regulation, but it was suspended days before it was to take effect by a federal district court in Texas. The forthcoming proposal is expected to include a raised salary threshold significantly lower than the previous proposal.

Many workers are misclassified as exempt when they are actually required to receive overtime pay. As a result, they may lose out on thousands of dollars each year. An employment law attorney can provide guidance to workers in wage and hour disputes and help them to seek compensation in cases of abuse.

Source: National Law Review, "New Overtime Rule Soon to Make Its Appearance", Jeffrey W. Brecher, Jan. 14, 2019

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